TAG Scientists Wrangle Giant Bluefins off Morocco

Exotic or local — fish-tagging efforts pay off

giant bluefin tagging

giant bluefin tagging

Doug Olander

Most times when I fish, I tag and release my catch, primarily because I’m married to a man who’s a state fisheries manager. His agency always has ongoing tagging studies, so it’s natural. But it’s also natural — for me, at least — to enjoy contributing to a worthwhile project. Giving is definitely more fun than getting.

So when some industry friends at Bluefin USA showed me several recent blogs from the Tag-A-Giant program, which that company supports, I eagerly read them. The blogs were written by TAG Director George Shillinger, who took advantage of a unique offer off the coast of Morocco to tag giant bluefin tuna in a century-old technique called Atlantic Moroccan tuna trapping.

Shillinger's first blog — Tagging Moroccan Giants at the Pillars of Hercules — introduces us to the technique and his team. His second blog — Tuna Trap Tagging Takes Teamwork! —illustrates how that tagging is done. Believe it or not, divers swim up to giant tuna in the water, capture them, turn them upside down and lead them into a sling.

While I think I would love to observe this technique, I’m not sure I’d be bold enough to wrestle tuna. I’ll probably stick with tagging my inshore species and writing about the excellent efforts of others.

If you have interest in joining a tagging study in your area, check with your state’s fishery-management agency. If you would like to support tagging efforts like Tag-A-Giant, visit their websites to learn more.